A survey of food bank operations in five Canadian cities

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dc.contributor.author Tarasuk, Valerie
dc.contributor.author Dachner, Naomi
dc.contributor.author Hamelin, Anne-Marie
dc.contributor.author Ostry, Aleck
dc.contributor.author Williams, Patricia
dc.contributor.author Bosckei, Elietha
dc.contributor.author Poland, Blake
dc.contributor.author Raine, Kim
dc.date.accessioned 2015-05-21T18:41:18Z
dc.date.available 2015-05-21T18:41:18Z
dc.date.copyright 2014 en_US
dc.date.issued 2014-11-28
dc.identifier.citation Tarasuk et al.: A survey of food bank operations in five Canadian cities. BMC Public Health 2014 14:1234 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/14/1234
dc.identifier.uri http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-1234
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1828/6189
dc.description BioMed Central en_US
dc.description.abstract Background: Food banks have emerged in response to growing food insecurity among low-income groups in many affluent nations, but their ability to manage this problem is questionable. In Canada, in the absence of public programs and policy interventions, food banks are the only source of immediate assistance for households struggling to meet food needs, but there are many indications that this response is insufficient. The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that facilitate and limit food bank operations in five Canadian cities and appraise the potential of these initiatives to meet food needs. Methods: An inventory of charitable food provisioning in Halifax, Quebec City, Toronto, Edmonton, and Victoria, Canada was conducted in 2010. Of the 517 agencies that participated in a telephone survey of their operations, 340 were running grocery programs. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to determine the association between program characteristics, volume of service, and indicators of strain in food banks’ abilities to consistently achieve the standards of assistance they had established. Results: Extensive, well-established food bank activities were charted in each city, with the numbers of people assisted ranging from 7,111 in Halifax to 90,141 in Toronto per month. Seventy-two percent of agencies indicated that clients needed more food than they provided. The number of people served by any one agency in the course of a month was positively associated with the proportion of food distributed that came from donations (beta 0.0143, SE 0.0024, p 0.0041) and the number of volunteers working in the agency (beta 0.0630, SE 0.0159, p 0.0167). Food banks only achieved equilibrium between supply and demand when they contained demand through restrictions on client access. When access to assistance was less restricted, the odds of food banks running out of food and invoking measures to ration remaining supplies and restrict access rose significantly. Conclusions: Despite their extensive history, food banks in Canada remain dependent on donations and volunteers, with available resources quickly exhausted in the face of agencies’ efforts to more fully meet clients’ needs. Food banks have limited capacity to respond to the needs of those who seek assistance. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship This study was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research operating grant (MOP-10591). en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher BMC Public Health en_US
dc.rights Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada *
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca/ *
dc.subject Food banks en_US
dc.subject Food insecurity en_US
dc.subject Canada en_US
dc.title A survey of food bank operations in five Canadian cities en_US
dc.type Article en_US
dc.description.scholarlevel Faculty en_US
dc.description.reviewstatus Reviewed en_US

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